Christmas Week in Grand Cayman

A week of dining in Grand Cayman


Christmas Week in Grand Cayman

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by megamay on January 4, 2006

Grand Cayman was practically destroyed by hurricane Ivan in 2004. A little over a year has passed as of my visit. It is amazing the progress they have made back to normalcy, and towards rebuilding the tourist economy. There are still many attractions that are not operating, like the farmer's market, and the safe haven golf course. Other attractions are barely a shadow of their former selves. However, I have confidence that they will be up and running again very soon. Many hotels and restaurants are already opened. For example, the huge and lavish Ritz Carlton just opened, after being completely rebuilt. It is now better than it ever was, or so I hear.

The biggest attractions on the island, however, are still there and doing just fine. That is, the sun, sand, and water, and the numerous activities related to them.${QuickSuggestions} First, make sure you go to see Stingray City. It was amazing! I was tempted to skip it, because as a scuba diver I was jaded. I thought that any surface activity couldn't compare to diving. Boy was I wrong!

Second, get the sticky toffee pudding. We didn't know what it was before we got there, but after our first taste we were hooked! We went off in search of the best sticky toffee pudding that the island had to offer. (Which by the way, we found at the Calypso Grill).

Finally, call before you head out to an attraction, just to make sure it is still there. Many of the guidebooks have information from before the hurricane, and not all the attractions are still in operation. ${BestWay} We had two rental cars for our group. While it was difficult to drive on the left side of the road, it seemed to be the best way to see the island. Nothing is really far, but it allows you to see the off the beaten path stuff. Also, with so many tourists driving on the "wrong" side of the road, it seems safest to join them as opposed to walking or taking a scooter.

Grand Caymanian Resort

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by megamay on January 4, 2006

Best Things Nearby:
Stingray City, when it grows back after being destroyed by the hurricane the safe haven golf course will be right there

Best Things About the Resort:
The resort offers its own trip to Stingray City, because it leaves early, and the resort is right on the water, directly in from Stingray City. They are always one of the first boats there, giving guests a great opportunity to spend time with all the stingrays before all the other boats arrive.

Resort Experience:
This resort is like having your own apartment. It was very comfortable, with plush furnishings; we joked that my husband was in another time zone than me if we stayed on our sides of the enormous bed. The full kitchen was nice too. It allowed us to make our own meals when we werent out enjoying the restaurants of the island. While it doesnt have a good swimming beach, it is right on the water, so the view from the balcony was wonderful! We loved sitting on the balcony, reading a book and feeling the warm ocean breezes. The only negatives were that the gym wasn't open and the restaurant wasn't fantastic. Other than that, I had a great time and would absolutely go back.

Ramada Grand Caymanian Resort
278 Crighton Drive
Grand Cayman
(345) 949-3100

Hemingway's

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by megamay on January 6, 2006

This restaurant is beautifully decorated in a sort of contemporary Asian decor. The cathedral ceiling and large doors open on all sides to the patio, and soft island breezes give the room a large open feeling while the furniture, an eclectic mix of dark woods, wicker, and subdued patterned fabrics, makes the space feel warm and inviting. The focal point of the room is a large palm tree rising to the apex of the cathedral ceiling. The tree is imposing but balanced well by the long, sheer burnt orange curtains that frame each doorway and sway invitingly in the breeze.

However, while the decorator did a great job on the aesthetic value, our one complaint was that the chairs were not particularly comfortable and the tables had a large center support that made it difficult to find a place for your feet.

Now on to the food! The appetizers were incredible. I had the shrimp gazpacho, which turned out to have a perfect consistency and balanced flavor. It didn't taste like cold tomato soup, as gazpacho so often can. The duck egg roll was also good.

For the main course, I had the fish special of sea bass stuffed with crab meat. It was also incredibly good; I cleaned my plate! I can't remember what everyone else in our party had, but we all got something different and no one complained.

Dessert was the real high point here, though! The sticky toffee pudding was to die for! Several members of our party are not "dessert people," but everyone loved this dessert. I am very much a dessert person, but I can't even remember the other desserts we had because this one was so good.

To sum it up, the atmosphere was elegant but casual; we didn't get any dirty looks when we brought the baby in. The service was not excellent but acceptable. It was pricey, but the food was top-notch and I would definitely go back!
Hemingway's
Hyatt Regency
Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
345 949 1234

Cafe Havanna

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by megamay on January 6, 2006

This restaurant was very elegant. It had wonderful food, excellent service, and a great atmosphere. We chose this restaurant for our one night out on the town without the baby because they do not allow children under a certain age (10, I think).

They have both indoor and outdoor tables. When we made the reservation, we requested outdoor seating because the weather was going to be perfect and we thought it would be romantic. If I had it to do again, I would have chosen to be inside. First, the patio is right next to the entrance, which is shared with another restaurant that does allow children. So while we left our baby at home, we heard small children screaming from the other restaurant. Second, it was not too breezy, and they allow smoking on the patio. Luckily the group that was smoking was not too close to us, or we would have requested to be moved. There was a group closer to the smokers who did request to be moved and the staff was very accommodating; however, if it had been more crowded, I don't know what they could have done. This would be solved by choosing indoor seating, though.

The service was excellent. Our waiter was very attentive, as were the other waiters and the maitre'd who each stopped to check on us a few times.

The food was, of course, the highlight of the evening. The wine that I chose, more or less randomly, from the wines-by-the-glass menu was wonderful. The appetizers, which are almost always my second favorite part of the meal, did not disappoint. I had the Thai watermelon gazpacho. I chose it because it sounded refreshing and interesting and it was both! The soup itself was a not too sweet watermelon broth with baby shrimp and fresh cilantro floating in it, and there was a dollop of avocado sorbet in the middle. The avocado sorbet was amazing! It really was frozen. The balance of sweet from the watermelon, creamy from the avocado, and tangy from the pungent cilantro was wonderful, very unique.

My husband had the tapas appetizer, which was also good. However, the menu said "two-bite" portions, but they were really like large one=bite portions and very difficult to share.

For dinner I had the duck breast with cherry compote and my husband had the ahi tuna rolls. Both were excellent, but the duck breast was a very small portion.

Finally, for dessert I had the Aztec cake with a chocolate shot. They said it was a traditional Latin dessert--it was wonderful! The cakes were deliciously creamy and light at the same time. The chocolate shot was wonderful and interesting, with a hint of spice from, I believe, red pepper.

Overall, the portions were small and everything was very expensive, but we had an excellent meal. I would go back, but only for a special occasion.
Casa Havana
Westin Hotel - Seven Mile Beach
Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
(345) 945 3800

Grand Old House

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by megamay on January 6, 2006

The Grand Old House is an old coconut plantation that has survived many hurricanes and has a lot of history. It is really beautiful, with an expansive deck overlooking the water. When we were there, at Christmastime, the deck was lit up with white lights and it looked magical.

The food and service were both good. I was traveling with a group of five and we share everything, so we got to try much of the menu. For the appetizers I had the baked brie which was good but nothing special. One person in our group had the island style conch, which I think was the best appetizer that we ordered. It was cut thin and well marinated so that the conch, which can be very chewy, was quite tender. It had a slightly spicy flavor and came in a large portion. The escargot special was also good.

For the main course, I ordered the fish, seabass I believe, with a lobster ravioli. It was good but not exceptional. The best entree that my group ordered was the venison; it was very tender and had a nice rich sauce. Other members of our group had the seafood rice dish which was slightly spicy, kind of like a paella, a steak entree and I can't remember the last one.

For dessert, we ordered the chocolate pear cake and a apple tart. Both were good, but again, not exceptional.

Overall, I would say that this restaurant was good but it didn't live up to my expectations or to it's prices. It was very expensive, and I just felt that you didn't get what you paid for. When compared to other restaurants in the area of comparable price, it didn't seem to compare.
Grand Old House
South Church Street
Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
+345-949-9333

Blue

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by megamay on January 6, 2006

Blue, in the Ritz Carlton, lives up to everything that the Ritz Carlton name implies. The decor is beautiful, the food delicious, and the service impeccable.

As the name implies, the decor includes a lot of blue, in all different shades. This is balanced by white tablecloths and taupe chairs and carpets. Tasteful but not pretentious pretty much says it all.

The service was everything that you would expect from the Ritz Carlton. If you even thought of needing anything, they were right there with it.

Finally, the food was, of course, amazing. It is a prix-fixe menu (including an appetizer, entree, and dessert) for, I believe, $63 (Caymanian) per person. There was also the option of a tasting menu for $100 (Caymanian) per person. I could just say that the food was amazing and leave it at that, because pretty much everything was, from the bread to the dessert.

First for appetizers we had cold coconut ginger soup with lobster, duck, crab cake bouillabaisse, ceviche, and I can't remember the last one. They were all good, though. The lobster soup was my appetizer. It had a very refreshing and interesting cold broth, with large chunks of lobster in it.

For dinner I had the swordfish with the recommended sauce (I think it was mango something) and baby bok choy. The reason I don't remember the sauce is that the fish was cooked so wonderfully that it didn't need the sauce. Usually I am all about sauces, so that is a real compliment! Other members of my party had the sea bass, the lamb, the steak, and the wahoo. I, of course, tried all of them, and they were magnificent. The only complaint at the whole table was from the person who is lactose intolerant, and the complaint was that there were not enough dairy-free selections.

For dessert we had passion fruit cream pie, donuts and cider, two chocolate cakes, and I can't remember the last thing. It isn't that the desserts weren't fantastic; the reason that I don't remember them very well is that they were gone so fast! We passed the plates around and each tried a piece. Everything was so good that it was gone before we knew it!

After dessert, instead of mints with the check, they brought spoons with a little chocolate petit four and a jellied candy.

Overall, it was expensive but a truly exceptional dining experience!

Blue
Seven Mile Beach
Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, 32348
345-943-9000

Calypso Grill

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by megamay on January 6, 2006

The Calypso Grill is an energetic, casual place overlooking the harbor with fantastic food. The decor is bright and cheery, comprised of red, blue, and burnt orange. There are doors, covering most of two walls, that are open, allowing the soft ocean breezes in. The tables are a little cramped, making the restaurant kind of loud, but that just adds to the casual, fun feeling.

We were there for lunch and the doors were open, with sunshine and a light breeze streaming in. Compared to the fine-dining restaurants we ate at, the service was a little slow, but every request was met with a pleasant attitude.

Word of caution: I ordered a pina colada expecting a fruity, sweet white drink and got a fruity, white drink floating in brown rum! I had to send it back to have them put LESS rum in!

The food was very good, though. I had a salad with feta cheese and arugula. Other members of my party had a salad with spicy shrimp, fish cakes, spicy shrimp in a cream sauce, and mussels in a cream sauce. Everything was great! The mussels in cream sauce with fries (which is a Belgian dish) were almost as good as the ones we had in Belgium!

Dessert was the big event, though! Initially we ordered sticky toffee pudding, chocolate butter bread pudding, a mango crepe, and millionaire shortbread. It was all amazing! But the shortbread and the sticky toffee pudding were out of this world! The shortbread was more like a tart, with shortbread on the bottom, then a layer of caramel topped with a thick layer of chocolate. If you don't know what sticky toffee pudding is, you HAVE to try it. It is sort of like toffee-flavored sponge cake soaked in caramel, with caramel on top. However, that description does not do it justice at all. The sticky toffee pudding was so good that we ordered another one!

This restaurant was reasonably priced but not cheap. The entrees averaged $10 (Caymanian), with my feta salad at about $8 (Caymanian) and the shrimp salad at about $14 (Caymanian). The desserts were all about $6 (Caymanian).

Overall, I thought that this restaurant was the best of both worlds: a relaxed island atmosphere and fantastic food. I would definitely go back!
Calypso Grill
Morgan's Harbor, Grand Cayman
Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
345-949-3948

Stingray City

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by megamay on January 6, 2006

I am a scuba diver, so I thought that a trip to Stingray City wouldn't be that exciting, since I have seen marine life pretty close under water before. Boy, was I wrong! We got there early in the morning and were one of the first boats. There were about 50 stingrays in the group, and they pretty much all crowded around our boat looking for food. At first I was a little scared, thinking that they had stingers on their tails. They do have stingers, but they only put them up when they feel threatened and they are so used to people that they are not easily threatened. The tour guide said that you should shuffle your feet on the bottom so you don't step on them, because that could make them sting you. But, he said, even if you step on them, these are so tame that they would probably just wriggle out from under you.

It was really cool to be able to pet them and feed them. Feeding them was kinda scary too, though. They don't have teeth, but they do have strong suction and jaws to sort of crush their food. The guide said not to worry, but I was still kind of scared.

However, it was an amazing experience. There were so many of them, and they are so graceful and beautiful in the water. I don't think there is anywhere else where you can have this experience, to be up close and personal with so many of these amazing creatures.

One suggestion, though, if you go, try to get there as early as possible. There are about 50 stingrays, and when we got there, there were two other small boats, but one was getting ready to leave. So the 12 people on our boat pretty much got all 50 stingrays to ourselves because we were the "fresh meat". But by the time we were leaving, another boat with about 50 people on it was pulling up. Then we went snorkeling a short distance away at the reef, and when we were finished, there were like 15 boats at Stingray City! AND there were more on the way. So it gets pretty crowded, and there are still only about 50 stingrays. I am sure that latecomers still have a great time and get to pet them and feed them, but earlier is better because there is a larger stingray-to-people ratio.
Stingray City
North Sound
Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands

Cayman Turtle Farm

Member Rating 2 out of 5 by megamay on January 6, 2006

The Cayman Turtle Farm was not at all what I expected. I don't know the admission price, but I am glad that I didn't pay it, because I was very disappointed.

Maybe it was better before the big hurricane in 2004. But now it is just one large pond where you can look down on a bunch of turtles. It is almost sad how they are climbing over each other; it doesn't seem like they have enough space. Then there are two small touch tanks where you can pick them up, if you can catch one. They all kept hiding in the far corner. Finally there were four other tanks with various sizes of turtles.

I don't know what I expected, but I guess more information would have been nice. There were no plaques or displays explaining anything. Also, more shade would have been great. The sun was very hot on the concrete walkways and there really wasn't any place to get out of it unless you went back inside.

It does look like they are adding on, though. I imagine a lot of it was destroyed in the hurricane, as most of the island was.
Cayman Turtle Farm
P.O. Box 812 West Bay
Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
+345-949-3894

Queen Elizabeth II Botanical Park

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by megamay on January 6, 2006

The Queen Elizabeth II Botanical Park was, as most of the island was, devastated by the hurricane in 2004. There are pictures in the visitor center showing the destruction. I imagine it was much more impressive before the hurricane and will be again.

For now, a few exhibits are available, including a pleasant walk around the nature trail where different species are marked, a beautiful flower garden, and in the wetland area, an almost guaranteed sighting of the rare blue iguana that is native to the island.

It was a pleasant diversion but not a must-see.
Queen Elizabeth II Botanical Park
North Side
Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, KY1-1701
(345) 947-3558

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